Saturday, 15 December 2012

Life Of Pi (Film)-Review

It's been quite awhile since I treated my mom to a movie. This show, Life of Pi was highly recommend by Top Critic to go see it. I went to this show with a open mind today, don't know what to expect. I certainly did not disappointed.

Back in the old days, people of all races in Malaysia would enjoy the latest Bollywood movie. This is something more special and bring out just like the good old days atmosphere.

Why something special? First of all the writer, a Canadian author,  starring mainly Indian Bollywood stars. The character Pi- played by Suraj Sharma, an unknown Indian teenage actor made his acting debut.  Director is Ang Lee is a Taiwanese-born American film director- needs no introduction to cinephiles.


"'Life of Pi" is based on the novel told from two alternating points of view, the main character Pi as he recounts his unbelievable adventure story. His 227-days journey on a lifeboat with a few of his zoo companions when his boat sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during a voyage to North America.
The novel's author Yann Martel from this movie, played the writer interviewing middle-aged Pi, many years later want to write a biography book about Pi fascinating adventure.

Life of Pi is divided into three parts. In the first part the narrator, it starts off with Pi tells writer about his childhood growing up in Pondicherry, India.

He was named Piscine Molitor Patel after a famous swimming pool in France. When he embark secondary schooling he was often teased and mock by his classmates with the nickname "Pissing Patel". Subsequently he decided to shortens his name as “Pi”short for Piscine, nevertheless some of his classmates still not give up taunting him says, “Nice try, 'Pissing'”

His father owns a zoo in Pondicherry (former French Colonial India), providing Pi with a well education and affluent living but his father compelled to sell the Zoo after a row over a land dispute with the government. He intends to sell the animals to a zoo in Canada before migrating.

Pi is raised a Hindu, but drawn to 3 of the world's major religions, went to explores issues on spiritual practise. When he was a fourteen-year-old he is being attracted to Christianity and later Islam.
His father disapproved his way of accepting 3 religions at one time. One has to be faithful to only one God, just like a man should have only one wife. Pi intention is that he wants to learn from each religion to picks up the best of those religions.

Pi acquire some knowledge on animals behaviour at his father Zoo but was reprimand when he over confidently tries to hand feed meat to the zoo Bengal Tiger by the name of Richard Parker.
His father manages to stop him from foolish act at the nick of time.

Pi was forced to accept the fact of life, the simple fact that wild animals are meant to be wild nature, whether it is a zoo, a circus, a stage show or a sanctuary, it will always be untamed and unpredictable.

His father instruct a worker to tie a goat outside the tiger cage bars and let him see how the tiger maul a goat  in front of his two sons. This lesson is to teach them to never let their guard down with wild animals.

Santosh Patel: You think tiger is your friend, he is an animal, not a playmate.
Pi Patel: Animals have souls... I have seen it in their eyes.

Goofs: The scene where the tiger dragging the goat inside the cage is a little  unrealistic as it would have left behind some evidence of blood and flesh on the steel cage bar?


Why does his father name the tiger as Richard Parker? His actual name is Thirsty. He got Richard Parker, because his hunter (Richard Parker) filled a paperwork mix-up and the file clerk switched their names on the sheet. When the tiger arrived at the Pondicherry Zoo, Pi's father fond of the wrongly given name and from then on out it stuck.

Pi's father gives up the zoo, keeping some animals to sell when they arrive in Canada. Enthusiastically, he announced to his family members,

We are going to Canada, North America as Columbus did..

Pi: But Columbus was looking for India.

FYI :Christopher Columbus was actually looking for India rather than America. He has mistaken thought at first that he was in India, and therefore he called the natives where he landed 'Indians.'

In the second part of the story, Pi’s family boarded on a Japanese freighter to Canada along with Zoo animals. Pi now a young man (16 years old) was upset as he has to leaves his sweetheart behind but determined, one day to come home and marry her.


After a few days on the sea. While sailing through rough seas, during a night time stormthe ship hit by giant waves and capsizes in storm.
Pi is awakened by a noisy noise. He arises from his sleeping quarters, wanted to invite his brother to have a look but he ignored him.  Later Pi find out that the cargo ship is sinking.

He ran back and saw the level that his family quarters had water all filled up but unable to do anything. He was thrown overboard the escape boat by the ship crew and found himself regains consciousness in a small lifeboat, the next morning.

A query on how Pi got into the escape boat? 

The Chinese crew probably tossed Pi overboard because they thought they were saving Pi life or there is a more sinister reason. In order to save their own lives, because they knew what wild animals were escape on the boat, the crew were using Pi as bait which would allow them time to escape using the life boat.

After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat in the company with a injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and Bengal tiger, all fighting for survival.

Just like Darwin’s theory of the natural selection, the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ in which the strong thrive and the weak perish.

The tension mounts on Pi who strives to survive among his fellow animals companion. When feelings of hunger may begin to creep in, the hyena started attacking the zebra, followed by the orang-utan much to Pi’s anguish.

Pi out of anger wanted to revenge against the Hyena, not even considering the dangerous risk and consequences. A face off set up between Pi’s and hyena, suddenly the tiger hiding under the boat's tarp dash towards and  pounces on the hyena, killing and eating the hyena.

Now Pi was left with little option and has zero chances of survival if stays on the board with Richard Parker. In order to avoid being attack, he builds a raft using the available material gather from the boat such as oars, life jackets and rope.

Pi throws his raft overboard and watch it floats on. Using a rope tie to the boat, he kept a safety distance between, tethers it to the boat.

Richard Parker jumps into the water to chase a fish. He is swimming after Pi and he jumps onto the boat and is able to pull the raft on board. Richard Parker struggle to get onboard the boat. Pi could have left the tiger in the ocean but his conscience will prevent him from doing so, eventually helps the tiger get back into the boat.


He pondered the possibility that Richard Parker will likely swim to the raft and ate him should he gets hungry enough. Left by the uncertainty, he decided he should start fishing to feed the tiger from becoming his next meal. As Richard Parker stares at Pi direction, he replied, “Patience!”

Adult Pi Patel: Hunger can change everything you thought you knew yourself!

Hunger will change a person stance over time. Pi a Hindu, is vegetarian, but to survive he has to change his character of innocent and timid young man; especially if he's facing a life-threatening situation from a feline animal stranded on a lifeboat with him.

He kills a (three-foot-long dorado) fish for the first time,feel the remorse and cried when apologising saying,“I'm sorry”. Later he shares the raw fish and feed himself and Richard Parker.

He has come to terms with the necessity, he has to kill for food in order to stay alive.

By coincidence?
To stay alive, one had no choice but to eat the flesh of those that had died.

In 1884, a shipwreck were similar to those in his movie. After the sinking of their yacht Mignonette on the way to Australia, Captain Tom Dudley and three sailors were stranded in a small boat in the Pacific Ocean. In a desperate circumstances, they left with no choice but to eat one of the party to survive. The victim was a 17-year-old cabin boy named Richard Parker.

Taming Of Richard Parker

With no escape and no land in sight either, Pi must tame the tiger, if they can work out their ways for truce and co-existence in the deep ocean.
Here, kitty kitty

Pi tried behavioural conditioning, Pavlov used in the studies of Pavlov's dogs to associate the sound of a whistle with sea-sickness. In Pavlov classic conditioning experiment, he presented dogs with a ringing bell followed by food and after repeated bell-food pairings the bell associated caused the dogs to stimulate saliva at the sound of a bell.

He used Pavlov technique to conditioning Richard Parker not to threaten him by rocking the boat and to cause seasickness while blowing a whistle.

Next he tried to use urine territory marking, the way male tiger mark his territory. Pi by urinating or pissing on the boat in attempt to mark his own territory but backfire as the tiger response, sprays Pi with a urine blast of his own.
Face off, round 1 winner Richard Parker


(Goofs :For those who did not know this is not the way how a male tiger do their urinating, only female does this way)

One day, while a school of flying fish is jumping over the boat, Pi manages to catch a dorado, and faces off with Richard Parker over it, eventually Richard backs down. He is able to stare down the tiger, proving that he has actually tame the tiger in full.
What do you see Richard Parker? Tell me what do you see


Step back! The Dorado fish is Mine!


Eventually, Richard Parker accepted Pi's presence and they both live in the boat. See what happens if we can to tolerate each other, there will be no fighting in the world, so we all can live together in peace.
 Pi on the bio luminescent sea under the moonlight


A whale jumping out of the water and flying through the air 

If Pi able to talk to Richard Parker, this is where he can use the expression,

we must work together when we're in the same boat, any fighting will sink the  boat, we truly are all in the same boat. And that now matter what our differences, we sink or swim together.


Slowly, all their food supplies supplies start to dwindle. They are losing weight and becoming more and more dehydrated. The part on Pi  thinks they are both dying, he places the tiger's head on his lap and  cradles the tiger's head in his lap.
Ah, What a Touching Moment!


Chances of survival were dwindling down due to starvation or dehydration. Another storm appeared, he was close to given up, his life can’t last much longer in anguish, Pi shrieks leading him to question God's plan for him. “I've lost everything! I surrender! What more do you want?


While adrift, he encountered a mysterious floating island coming from nowhere, an island of carnivorous algae inhabited by thousands of meerkats.
 the island is home to a carnivorous algae

After he has recovered from dehydration, he refurbished  his food supplies with a plentiful supply of food from the surrounding and plenty of fresh water.


A nice moment of friendship, as before he left he yelled out, “Richard Parker!”, to inform it’s time to leave the island. Almost like a relationship between a man and dog. Just like Lassie, Richard Parker jump on board the boat.They have develop a special bond between them.

It is just me or my imagination as I remember the island when Pi departed was in the shape of a large human, who could be a Sleeping Buddha figure?
Somehow I found the island was strange looking but couldn’t pause like a DVD player to take a better look.

Like the beginning of the movie it started with this saying, “I have a story that will make you believe in God "was a very bold statement. The young man who has much faith in GOD was tested, he would not made it through the journey at sea should he is without a strong belief in GOD. I believe GOD provide a temporary shelter for Pi to recovered and continue his journey back home.

One thing bother me is unlike Cast Away, Tom Hanks hair and facial hair would be overgrown but this Indian version of Cast Away only required a haircut. Does the emergency survival kit in the life boat also provide a shaver?

Pi recollection memories of various events while adrift, including discovering an island of carnivorous algae inhabited by meerkats. After 227 days hardship on the high sea ordeal, the lifeboat washes up onto the coast of Mexico where Pi with the last effort of his strength pulls the boat lands in Mexico shore. Richard Parker jumps outboard to escapes into the nearby jungle, while villages take Pi to a hospital.

Gosh, Richard Parker did not turn around to say goodbye, unlike "Born Free lion". Kinda wish in the last scene, what a lovely lasting sweet moment to carry with Pi, if Richard does turn around, hiding in to peeked through the bushes and gives a loud roar? (Goodbye..)

Pi manages to survive with him for so long, but does, in the end, disappointed because he expects a human-like goodbye from the tiger.

The fact that without Richard Parker, he would not have survived, and this is very true, the tiger was basically Pi's “Wilson” while he was casted away adrift in the ocean. Pi need Richard like a mismatched buddies after losing his family to keep his sanity.

We shared Pi frustration when Richard Parker would not budge from turning his head to look behind. Arrrgh! 

Adult Pi Patel: All of life is an act of letting go but what hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.

Richard Parker in the end did not ever fully tame by Pi, after all he is still a wild animals and cannot changed his nature just alike story of the scorpion and the frog.

In the final part of the tale, two officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport speak to Pi to find out how did the ship sink?
Naturally they find his true story a little hard to swallow, alternatively he tells them a story of cannibalism, in which Pi was adrift on a lifeboat together with others survivors ,his mother, a sailor with a broken leg, and the cook.

The Japanese officials understood Pi alternative story is the same storyline except the cast name being parallels replaced. The orangutan represents his mother, the zebra represents the sailor, the hyena represents the cook, and Richard Parker is Pi himself.

After providing all the necessary information, Pi asks which of the two stories they like. Since the officials unable to prove neither story provides relevant reasons behind the shipwreck. They stick with the story with the animals.

Pi thanks them and says, "and so it goes with God".

His spiritual journey of life is almost like a test of Faith given by God in which he was given several task. At the end of the movie, it leaves the audience feeling a bit doubt, whether he'd make up his entire the story and raises all manner of questions.

Life of Pi begins of the movie with an old man in Pondicherry who tells the narrator, "I have a story that will make you believe in God."


The question is not whether the audience believe God is real or not. God is real.
It exists in the minds of believers.

I have been through some worst experience of my lives and those will not believe my story if I tell them. I do believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.


One thing we know for sure is Life of Pi will be a strong contender in sweeping most of next year's Oscar Awards,

To say the least this brilliant movie has my vote for the best picture!


The Life of Pi is a movie that should not be missed, combining stunning film's cinematography,
 visual effects and packed with jaw-dropping CGI.
Watch this  in the big cinema screen experience to achieve maximum visual and audio effect.

 Hats off, bravo and well done to everyone involved in this
Ang Lee's masterpiece film!


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